West Virginia Patent of the Month – September 2021

Hot-dip coatings are used to provide extra benefits to steel sheets. Depending on the coating, hot-dip coated steel sheets might have better strength, corrosion protection, or heat resistance. When that coating is aluminum, the sheet often ends up spangling. A spangle pattern is a geometric pattern formed based on dendrites, and grows during the solidification of the aluminum after coating. While this spangling does not limit the quality of the steel sheet, it does have an unwanted aesthetic for many people. NS Wheeling-Nisshin, Inc. has developed a hot-dip coating method that minimizes the spangling, creating smaller spangles and improving the appearance.

Their method does not eliminate spangles, but rather increases the density of spangle nuclei and ultimately decreases the size of each spangle. A spangle spreads and grows, only stopping when it reaches another spangle. So, the addition of more spangles means they are more limited in their growth. Their method uses controlled cooling rates and a cooling rate determining device to monitor the molten coating material-coated steel sheet. The device includes a coefficient obtaining section based on discoloration of the surface of the sheet. This is then used to ensure the sheet cools at an average cooling rate between the moment it leaves the coating bath until the coating is completely solid. By controlling the cooling rate each time a steel sheet is hot-dip coated, the spangle density is increased and the sizes are mediated, ultimately creating a uniform appearance.

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